With businesses and offices all over the country slowly returning to work and adapting to the new ‘normal’, lots of people are wondering how the office will look in a post-pandemic world. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure all government guidelines are followed in your workplace, and this more than likely means rethinking your layout and making some changes.
Employers all over the country need to review how they’re going to adapt their workplace to ensure it is safe and ready for their employees. For more information on how you can make sure your workplace is adhering to government guidelines, follow the official government advice for working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19). This advice aims to reduce the risk of infection in the workplace to the lowest possible level.
Employees must be able to social distance at all times in the workplace and this likely means you’ll need to rethink the layout of your space. Gone are the days of open, free-flowing office spaces; instead, we’ll be seeing more Plexiglass screens and separated areas.
Read on below for our top tips for adapting your office in a post-pandemic world.
A COVID-19 secure risk assessment should be carried out in your workplace to identify all areas and challenges that need to be addressed. All areas of the workplace should be assessed, including the lifts, toilets, meeting rooms and communal areas, narrow corridors and reception areas. From this, you can create rules for employees to follow and work out how you’re going to tackle certain areas and make them safe to work in for employees. You can also identify “pinch points” where people congregate and design the flow around the office to avoid people gathering.
One way systems
Implementing one way systems in the office is an effective way to keep employees from walking past each other and ensure social distancing is maintained at all times. In open planned offices, placing arrows on the floor that indicate a one way system is an easy and effective way to minimise contact among people. Creating one-way traffic systems will ensure employees do not brush past each other and can exit and enter the room separately.
Use floor markers to ensure social distancing is practised; place them around desks and in any areas where it’s possible a queue could form.
Rotating work days
Depending on the size of your office and number of employees, there’s a high chance not everyone will be able to be in the office at the same time. Now that the home is considered a legitimate workspace, employees can rotate between working at home and working in the office. This will ensure there are never too many people in the office at once and social distancing can be maintained.
Create a clear rota for employees to follow. Remember, employees should have enough space to move around at their desks while still practising social distancing.
As a company, it’s your responsibility to ensure your workplace is clean and hygienic, to stop the spread of infection and keep employees safe. However, this goes beyond hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes (although these are useful and should be provided).
Good cleaning and disinfection routines can massively reduce or eliminate the spread of infection. As an employer, it’s your duty to maintain a clean working environment for employees and make sure every member of your team feels safe coming to work.
The frequency of office cleaning should be increased, especially in high-traffic areas, such as the reception area or toilets, or touchpoints. Cleaning teams should be provided with disposable washing-up gloves and masks. Remind your cleaning teams to wash their hands regularly with antibacterial soap for at least 20 seconds after they have cleaned.
Frequently touched surfaces that should be regularly disinfected and wiped down include:
- Desks and workstations
- Door handles, windows, rails, water coolers and dispensers
- Toilets, changing rooms, corridors, lifts and reception areas
- Computer keyboards, printers, touch screens, monitors
- Kettles, taps, fridges, microwaves, cupboards and water heaters
Make sure hot desks and other shared spaces are cleaned down after each use and ensure employees always have access to hand sanitiser.
Air quality and air conditioning
The coronavirus outbreak highlighted the importance of indoor air quality and the steps required to reduce the spread of germs and disease in the office. Offices are often breeding grounds for air contamination, including bacteria, mould and viruses. Poor ventilation only makes this worse, which is why it’s extremely important to ensure you have adequate ventilation in the office – and this means having a high-quality air conditioning system in place.
While quality of air can be improved through natural ventilation, such as opening windows or doors, the best way to control the temperature of your office and improve ventilation is with a HVAC system. An air conditioning system cleans the air by removing allergens and pollutants and provides constant and adequate ventilation. Air conditioning also helps circulate and filter indoor air, as well as maintaining the temperature.
To create a safe working environment for your employees, it’s important to communicate regularly and clearly with them. Before they enter the office, it’s important to ensure they understand what is required of them and the extra measures they need to take while in the office. For example, if you implement a one way traffic system in the office, it’s important your employees know about it beforehand.
In addition to any adjustments you’ve made around the office to make it safer, you should also come up with a communication plan. This should include staff inductions to introduce the new measures in your building and reassure them you’re doing everything you can to keep them safe.
Always keep your employees in the loop and ask for feedback of the amendments you’ve made. Remember, you want to make your employees feel safe in their workplace and this means regularly checking in with them and addressing any concerns they have about the workplace.
If you’re implementing any new measures in the office, your employees should always be the first to know about it. It’s also important to be realistic and clear with them about your plans for the future and how you intend to slowly adjust to a post-pandemic world long term.
Mitchell’s: bespoke air conditioning systems
As previously discussed, improving the ventilation and air quality of your office is key. If you’re looking for a professional air conditioning installation in Gloucester for your commercial or industrial building, you needn’t look further than Mitchell’s. Our team of experts can perform all of the relevant air conditioning design, servicing and maintenance so you don’t have to. We have the skills, experience and expertise to ensure you choose an air conditioning system that meets your specific needs. Each solution we create is unique to ensure it meets the different requirements of our clients.
For more information about our air conditioning installation, servicing and maintenance services, visit our website today.